WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins coach Claude Julien knows his team is in store for a difficult game Tuesday night when they welcome in the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. While the Blackhawks had a subpar first half of the season after losing key pieces to their Cup-winning team in salary cap-related moves, they have been one of the hottest teams in the second half. They entered their tilt with Central Division rival Detroit on Monday night clinging to a one-point lead over the Flames for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. (They opened a little breathing room with a 3-2 overtime win.)
Julien knows teams in the Blackhawks' position can be dangerous for a team like his own that has already clinched a playoff spot, but he also thinks a game like this is a perfect test for the Bruins as they prepare for playoff hockey.
"That's a desperate team and we talked about how those kind of games should be helpful for us to stay on top of ours and realize that if you're not ready for games like that, you can get embarrassed pretty easily," Julien said. "Those are the type of games that we need to prepare for the playoffs coming up. They're a team right now that's fighting to stay in the playoffs. I think we'll see them at their best."
The Bruins will need to be careful of the Blackhawks when they're on the attack.
"This is a team that has a lot of offensive skill in the offensive zone," Julien said. "They're very creative and make good passes in tight, and if we don't have our heads on a swivel in our d-zone, we could get ourselves in a lot of trouble."
Milan Lucic also is wary of the Blackhawks and what they have done in recent seasons at this time of year.
"They're a desperate team trying to stay in the race. They're playing back-to-back, but you can't take them lightly," Lucic said. "They're a team that has shown in the last two or three years that they can play big in big games and they're going to do whatever they can to get themselves into position to be playing some extra games after the season ends."